A pact was made in Manning Park,

Caught in a snowstorm in July.

It’s easy to say stupid things

When you’re expecting that you’ll die.

We never thought we’d see it through,

But as it turned out, we survived.

We should have known we’d make it,

For in adversity, we thrive.

Eleven months it hung around,

Deep in the backgrounds of our minds.

But then the day had come at last,

To lace up our shoes and grind.


Logistically it was a mess

To think this business through,

And caused no small amount of stress

Planning car-drops, gear and crew.

At Cleveland Dam we left a car,

And at Deep Cove park as well.

My own car waited at the finish line;

To reach it, we’d run through Hell.

The mighty Bird offered his wife;

Mama Marina brought her daughters.

Myself I was content to mooch

Off what they all had to offer.


The weather started out quite fine,

It’s a shame it didn’t hold;

For we would spend that whole first night

Under showers, feeling cold.

All three of us were sheathed in shorts,

I wore a specific denim print,

Anticipating Mijinke’s Jorts

On a booty worth compliment.

I started out with Naked Band

And my matching Man-bra too.  

But I later donned a heavy pack,

My minimalism through.

For the night is dark and full of terrors

That one must always be prepared for;

Naked’s stretchy mesh would surely tear

If all ten essentials were shoved in there.



A classic start-line at Deep Cove

Where the fire hydrant stands.

Our spirits soared as we set out

To meet the trail’s demands.

Well the Baden Powell’s a surly bitch,

But she gently lures you in,

Until the switchbacks start to switch

Into a rocky root prison.

But on we marched to Cleveland Dam

And sometimes even jogged

On the rare occasion when the trail

Wasn’t a godforsaken bog.


Our first of many cameos

As Dam-ward-Ho we went,

Was Heather of the Fatdog Race;

Her presence Heaven-sent.

She supplied us all with salty chips

And mini pecan pies,

And since we weren’t expecting her

It was a great surprise!


Our path next crossed a merry group

On a baby-shower run!

‘Cause Tara Berry’s pregnant state 

Won’t stop her from having fun.

“30 weeks along” she said,

Her balloon announced “a boy!”

Alicia Woodside led the way

And meeting them spread joy.










At Cleveland Dam we took some chäir,

Seating our sweaty asses

On a rolling hill by Mama’s car,

Our legs brushed by gentle grasses.

I chugged my first of six cold beers;

A lovely palette cleanser.

And Erik Bird soon changed his tune

About drinking on adventures.

We bid adieu to our fair chäirs

And found that sitting took its toll,

As our running legs were clunky stiff

When departing from our knoll.

We made it close to a km

When Erik abruptly said “Ahem,”

“I’ve left behind my poles.”


We received a text from Jarvis

That he was lurking about,

And our estimated meeting time

Gave him plenty of time to pout.

That trail is just an asshole though;

30 minutes becomes an hour.

Although messaging “you’re fucking slow,”

When we met, he wasn’t that sour.

In fact Nick Jarvis was glowing,

For he’d recently finished showing,

His trail-newbie friend, 

The wrong end

Of an ass-kicking in roughly an hour.



(At the mention of Nick I find,

I’ve slipped into limerick rhyme.

It’s fitting you see,

Because to me,

Nick’s the biggest troll of all time.


And limerick’s the most troll-y verse

That ever could be rehearsed.

And his partner in crime,

Another friend of mine,

Is possibly additionally worse.


They royally roasted my QBU Fail,

Now I must retaliate on similar scale.

Despite all that was said,

Hannah shit the bed.

Hence the trolling tone of this tale.


Yes Hannah deserves introduction,

As she’ll be joining this production.

We’ll meet her real soon,

When greeting the moon.

So please pardon the interruption:


There once was a girl from Squamish,

Who the Baden-Powell demolished.

She brought up the rear,

And shed many a tear,

And by trolls she was sorely admonished.


Couch-to-ultra peacocking!

Suffice to say it was shocking,

When she called it a day

25 percent away,

And her trolls continued their mocking.)










At Hollyburn we hit the snow

Around 800 meters high,

But we had much more climb to go;

Beware of postholes to your thigh!

And then adjacent, down she went!

Marina punched through snowy crust,

Face-first into a riverbed,

And we all made quite a fuss.

But Mama’s knee-pads saved her then;

The same ones that to me,

Provoke such childish dirty jokes

About her getting on her knees.


At Cypress Lot we took *real* chäir;

Erik’s lovely wife Christine,

With pizza and beer, was waiting there;

The perfect dinner scene.

Nick and his demolished friend,

Who was also christened Nick,

Were chilling, drinking post-run beers,

Which we cheers’d with an audible click.

I was offered a blue blanket,

Which I took with gratitude.

For the elevation had a chill,

And I craved warmth along with food.

But all good chäir must sadly end.

On our feet despite their ache.

Again we pressed on, West and Up,

To summit Black, then reach Whyte Lake.


We cheered upon the crest of Black!

Then on to Eagle Bluffs,

Where treated to a fine sunset,

Before boulder fields at dusk.

The descent to Whyte is super sketch,

But at least the first time we were fresh,

Though it was still my ardent wish

To not become a bloody mess

Or a paraplegic husk.

We made it down without a tumble!

And soon six tired legs did stumble

Into Whyte Lake aid in quite a rush

To ease our hungry tummies’ rumbles.


Our feast commenced, but suddenly

A most spirit-lifting sight!

Our headlamps illuminating Jorts!

Alan’s booty in the night.

Reinforcements had arrived!

Yes there was Hannah by his side,

And some dude named Matthew over there,

Incoming pacers extraordinaire

And trusty forest guides.

Our pacers had their own set goals:

“A hundred k or bust” we’re told.

Perhaps -based on their training- bold?


The time had come to turn around

And do the whole course in reverse.

12 hours gone, 55k in,

And now to do it all again!

The route was less than that of course,

But we had wandered lost before,

And likely would get lost some more;

Expecting things to get way worse.

‘Cuz back up Black our path now led;

A 1200 meter climb ahead.


Speaking of lost, as we began,

We quickly became lost again

In darkness on steep slopes of Black,

Forcing tactics of “Back-track!”

Then “Wait! What’s that over there?!?”

Some random dude with Pokémon hair!

Calling him Random is barely fair;

The understatement of the year?

Yes he was in a *state*, you see,

Exclaiming of underwear hanging from trees!



With reinforcements came rain

And a deep distant thunder,

Which we met with disdain:

“We’re not made of sugar!”

Yes the clouds had rolled in,

But their one silver lining

Was that we missed Seymour’s hail;

The wrong place, the right timing.

For what did we find,

When we reached Seymour’s Grind?

Drifts of those pellets that infuriate minds.


New blood brought new synergy,

But the night slowly thwarted

And deflated the energy

Our new friends had afforded.

I myself now retreated,

Pulling deeper inside,

With an earbud inserted,

Adding beats to my strides.

Heads down, we pushed on,

Running towards dawn.


That faint purple glow,

Which soon silhouetted

Distant Mount Seymour,

Towards which we were headed.

The glow promised dawn,

And the night had been awful.

Weary warriors with focus on breakfast

Of coffee, bacon and waffles.


But with morning came complaints of a curious kind.

From our pacers no less, I couldn’t find

Explanation for Hannah and Al’ to be falling asleep;

They were 30km in!  The toll not yet steep.

My suspicions were raised:

“Was this all a troll?”

Statements of exhaustion with nefarious role?

But by their sallow complexions and the depth of their pouts,

I think they were truly about to pass out!


Around 11am, our wish was fulfilled:

Deep Cove smelled of bacon being grilled!

And Tasha was there just raring to join.

But first we must rest, eat and enjoy!

It was then that I made my second mistake:

Which discovered my first, for my socks I did take

Off before eating, to my great terror.

“I should have swapped socks long before here!”

I scolded myself for my rookie error.

Mottled whiteness and macerated.

A sight from which appetite evaporated.

At least until Christine had the waffles plated,

And I forgot all about feet and masticated!


“Hey, wanna run a 50k?” Says Erik quite chipper,

Feigning fresh as a daisy, as if right at the start.

Instead of reality, decidedly grimmer:

25 hours in, with wavering hearts.

“Every step we do now, we don’t do again.”

“The final lap, 50ish k to the end.”

“Every descent we run down,

We won’t later ascend.”

“It’s all in our rear-view-mirror,

And when we finally drag our butts to the end, 

We don’t have to ever again come near here.


Back on the trail with Tasha now leading.

New-to-her trails, yet still did she guide

Unfairly fresh legs found starkly contrasting

To my hovercraft shuffle-step stride.

Coiled compressed springs launched her strongly up stairs,

Only to look back and find we were not there.

She’d stop, we’d catch up, and then off she would streak.

Definitely an interesting pacing technique!

I could never catch her, as hard as I tried;

Until I saw my chance on her right-hand-side,

And suddenly sprinted on legs that were fried!

-Catching her off-guard, for a moment I’d passed!

But a moment was all that my glory would last.


At Cleveland Dam, third time’s the charm:

Greeted by chowder found pleasantly warm.

But more satisfying yet, before taking my spoon,

Bathroom facilities where I ‘created some room’.

Now my tummy felt great, and the food was a treat!

My only issue was my burning trench-foot feet.

But I began to notice an odd effect:

After stopping they’d hurt as one would expect,

But after running a while, the pain would fade;

Still there but muted, as though a choice was made,

To simply ignore it, or hear and discard it.

As though the rhythm of running

Itself was numbing, and preventing succumbing.


Leaving Cleveland, we got some bad news:

Our good buddy Hannah was singing the blues.

She’d decided to drop, and all kidding aside,

Hannah is tough as they come; she’d confide

That her head and her heart weren’t in it this time.

She had more important things on her mind.

It’s not like she didn’t complete it last year,

And her car was parked conveniently near.

Lessons were learned, and a new rule will bind:

‘No more parking her car anywhere but the finish line.’


As we were moving, at random intervals,

Tourette’s-like it came; some form of battle-call:

“Jorts!” would be heard, sometimes loud, sometimes soft,

And echoes by teammates would carry aloft.

A hiker might think it an unusual bear-call.

Yes a fondness for Jorts sure pervaded us all. 

But through all the fanfare, I felt second class

In my faux-Jorts, when Alan had the real deal on his ass.


I think the event-host Craig Moore was also a fan.

And how could one *not* enjoy Jorts on a man?

We crossed paths with Craig after many a mile,

In Hollyburn Chute, and he was wearing a smile.

Was it the Jorts?  It’s difficult to say.

Ironically the fourth time passing his name ‘today’.

(There’s a street called ‘Craigmohr.’

Yes the spelling’s astray, 

But let’s humour him please;

It seems to just make his day.)


Our final aid at Cypress, once more approaching night,

Featured lovely apple pie, our blankets wrapped quite tight.

And if it seems that my focus is on eating,

It’s because support crew was so key

To our success, and they were treating

Us with so many treats that they all can’t be included,

But to think that we would finish this without them is deluded.

And please consider the old ultrarunning adage,

That it’s less about your actual training mileage,

Quality, or quantity, when it comes to a race,

And more about the sheer quantity of food

That you can comfortably stuff down your face.


Despite blankets and tight turnover, while sitting we got chilled,

So Matthew led out fast, working hard as he up-hilled

Towards the peak of Black, up its slick snowy surface;

Jacking up the heart rate, stoking up the furnace.

Faintly foggy but single minded,

Our team stoically grinded

Up our last significant climb and

“Where are the other headlamps?”

“I count three.”

(How many beams of light should there be?)

There they glow, far below in the snow.

As it turns out, Mama had a low.

But not much further to go.


We took a moment on the summit, little said.

Fatigue was taking over, and the dread

Of the boulder-fields awaiting, sharp and slick;

We expected our descent would not be quick.

Another moment at the Bluffs, 

But upon taking his seat,

Erik announced that he must move or fall asleep.

So we took one last look at the city lights arrayed,

Then took a step, and another, like the blade

That slowly pares the pear, we sliced away, 

At the diminishing distance still before us; 

Descending through slabs, boulders,

And finally into forest.


But before barely getting started going down, 

A headlamp coming up:  “It’s Jason Brown!”

Another Van100 hopeful from our town,

And he looked about to lay down on the ground.

Mama’s instincts immediately took charge

And she loomed up like a Mama-bear at large,

“We’re taking you home, Jason!  You’re coming with us!”

Directing him back down the perilous precipice.

I said, “Hold on Mama, that doesn’t make sense!

I’d take a 3k ski-run cruise over a massive sketch descent.

He’ll be with his crew at Cypress long before we’re done.”

(This all was discussed with much confusion.

Our trusty thinking thingies just weren’t thinking at optimum.)


Fighting to hold focus, but starting to break down.

Sleep is a limiting factor, we definitely found.

Forcing concentration, for one misstep

Would be a SAR call in the making.

Weary legs are shaking 

As feet are planted carefully;

Testing, not trusting

A body that’s carried us this far.

Descending so much further than last time.

Forever descending; 

So technical, so treacherous.  

Just get it done.


“Alan and Tasha are still back there somewhere?”

“Should we wait?  Do we have to?”

A selfishness upon us: (Just get it done.)

The thought of stopping somehow feels terrible, unthinkable.

A terrible way to think, but survival instinct;

Fight or flight shit, everything screaming

For the finish line, so close.

Stopping lets the pain rush back to the surface;

Keep on moving, cocooned in sluggish numbing rhythms.

But we stop and wait nonetheless,

And they aren’t far behind.


The mind getting more creative, seeing things differently?

Not hallucinations, but the next best thing:

A leaning jagged stump looks like a giant Elk head,

With great protruding antlers.

And sure enough it does, even when examined,

But I would never have noticed,

If not in this state.

Half expecting to see underwear hanging from trees,

Like our strange nocturnal visitor on these very slopes

Had claimed, 24 hours prior.

Matthew takes a dump 500 meters from the end.

This time we didn’t wait.

Ten days removed and looking back,

I must say that I’m impressed

That those of us who formed The Pact

All passed this hundred miler’s test.

Impressed but not surprised, that is;

Our trio’s 11 month desire

Prepared us for the pain, the conditions and ‘the tired’.

I know that had I been alone, I’d most definitely drop,

But commitment to my friends precluded necessity to stop.

A force beside which, it would seem, that even ego pales;

For ego may have got me 2+ laps before the fail.

Yes, we completed our tall task,

A rare Triple Baden-Powell!

Without throwing in the towel,

To the finish line we clawed!

But I caution you, my friend,

Unless looking for a scowl,

Don’t you fucking dare to ask

To make a pact to do the Quad.




There I was, relaxing on a beach in Mexico, wearing nothing but short-shorts and drinking tequila.  My phone vibrated in the beach bag as a message popped up on my running watch.  It was my adventure buddy Erik.  We chatted a bit about the weather forecast back home for the upcoming Ides of March.  We were still a little over a week away, but it was looking favourable.  “As long as we don’t get a fucking polar vortex coming through just beforehand like last year and icing up the trail, we’re golden!” I joked.  Well!  We didn’t get the polar vortex beforehand this time.  This time, we got it during.  In terms of acclimatization, the heat of Mexico may have been a bad idea for my taper plan.


“The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar that corresponds to the 15th of March. It was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts.”  


The Abby Grind (1.7km up, 1.7km down, climbing and descending roughly 450m) is an excellent trail for doing repeats.  Nearly perfect even; by the time you’re at the top, you’re totally ready to stop climbing uphill, and by the time you’re back down at the bottom, you’re just starting to get sick of the pounding descent.  It has a history of repeats, and I’m sure that I’m not even aware of many of them.  As far as I know, my buddy Jamie set the original double-digit record of 12x.  Months later, a Vancouver ultrarunner named Matt did 14x.  Then Jamie and I tag-teamed 15x together.  Then Matt did 20x (starting to approach the 24 hr mark).  We traded back and forth like this for a couple of years, and I’m assuming we eclipsed all the other unknown repeats that came before us?  Seems a fair assumption, considering how ridiculous it became.  


Matt and I are what you might call ‘Frienemies’, and he is of course the inspiration behind the event’s name, The Ides of March.  A month or so before the 2019 Ides of March, I actually titled a Strava run with an anagram hinting at the day I was coming for his record, and tagged him in the post.  He solved the puzzle within a day, which is super impressive!  The Strava title was “O, Be Few Reach This Dream” which rearranges to become “Beware The Ides of March”, a famous line from Shakespeare; Soothsayer to Caesar, warning of his imminent death.  While I certainly wasn’t foreshadowing Matt’s assassination, March 15th, 2019 was definitely a day for settling debts.  The attempt in 2019 did not go without hiccups, including multiple hours of excruciating leg cramping and a couple solid pity parties, but with the support of good friends, I got it done, finishing with 24 grinds in 24 hours for a stout new record.



At the end of 2019, with the Javelina Jundred behind me, I began thinking of the upcoming year.  It made sense to replicate what, in hindsight, appeared to have been a key early-season effort that set up a great stretch of running over the previous eight months, while again sharing the experience with friends.  This time, however, I wanted to do it a bit differently.  I approached three of the strongest mountain runners I know with the proposal of a 24 hour group record attempt to take place on the one year anniversary of the original Ides of March, with the plan being for all of us to ideally break the record together.  Erik and Marina were instantly enthusiastic about the idea, but Alan didn’t want to commit to the training (Alan isn’t huge on training.  ?)


I spent the two months preceding The Ides as an Injured Piece Of Shit, but all that seemed finally behind me, and I was feeling healthy again.  On my one and only significant training run leading up to the big day, which was a 60km night jaunt while pulling a pre-Mexico all-nighter before flying out, I buried a bittersweet memento at the top of the grind.  It was a wood-handled bottle opener, carved in the shape of a wolf and inscribed with the date of last year’s record.  Unfortunately (long story) this artifact was doomed to either the trash can or the mountain, and I felt like the latter is where it belonged.  


The training run went well, starting with an ATRC group run, immediately followed by another 25km with Alan, and then the final miles alone, finishing after 2am.  The best part was that the next day I wasn’t even all that sore!  A ton of anxiety over my perceived loss of fitness during my time as an IPOS dissolved away.  My body and mind remembered endurance, and I knew I wouldn’t quit (particularly after burying that bottle opener.)  I knew then that I could actually do this!  

I also had an excellent sleep on the plane.


The lead up just before the Ides wasn’t spared it’s drama.  I think that Marina, Erik and I all had the ol’ taper tantrums.  We’d been building towards this for months, but a lot was still up in the air.  We sweated over insignificant details like parking proximity based on our mid-day start time; things that truly wouldn’t have any real effect on the outcome.  Additionally, the number of people who said they might be attending was getting huge and overwhelming!  While we love how our running community steps up to support each other, we worried about how we might feel with a huge entourage when we were 20+ hours into the pain cave.  The weather ended up somewhat solving that problem, with attendance being much less than forecasted -pardon the pun!  Other friends wanted to join the group not just as pacers but as full 24 hour participants, and we worried how that might effect our group dynamic, pace etc.  We weren’t sure if these others expected us to stay with them and all stick together as a group, or if they were just doing their own thing, so there was some anxiety over it as we didn’t want to upset our friends over a silly record attempt.  


In classic Alan fashion, he hilariously photoshopped himself into the race poster that our talented buddy Nick created for the three of us.  Alan sees an awkward subject that people are avoiding unnecessarily and he just tackles that shit head on, with a huge set of balls.  I can’t even get mad at that guy -I love it!  While he initially didn’t want to commit to the training (and believe me, he didn’t train, haha) the FOMO was getting to him, plus what I suspect was some inspiration from our mutual friend Hannah recently crushing a “couch to hundred miler” on the notoriously tough HURT100 course.  Alan and his massive balls were in for 24hours, and after the photoshopping stunt, there was no backing out!



On the day of the Ides, our worst fears came to pass.  The Lower Mainland was being hit by -yup!- Polar Vortex winds.  The windchill was predicted to go below -10 overnight.  And at the base of the Grind it was even worse.  The wind whipped around the mountain with turbulent gusts that shook our vehicles, made opening our doors and hatchbacks nearly impossible, and blinded us with sand.  (Side note, Alan had actually been knocked unconscious by his hatchback trunk in the wind earlier, and might have been concussed?)  How different our aid station had become from what we had visualized while grocery shopping for embarrassing quantities of junk food and dreaming of sweet sweet chäir-snacks between laps.  The wind was so bad that with every lap, I spent the last bit of the descent fervently hoping with all hope that my Thule rooftop cargo box would still be anchored to my vehicle when I popped out of the trailhead, as it was shaking violently while being constantly hammered by the gale force gusts.  It survived!  [Paid Advertisement] ?


I must give major kudos at this point to my homie and (airquotes) “coach”, Mitch, who did a solo Backyard 100km starting from the same parking lot at the same time, but along the flat dyke with zero tree cover from the relentless wind.  Seriously badass, brother.  ?


So yeah, the wind and cold were uncomfortable, particularly through the latter part of the night, when the temperatures dropped and we had already been going for so long that our bodies were having a hard time generating and retaining heat.  However there was another aspect of the polar vortex that straight up fucked us.  The Abby Grind is steep of course, but the half way point is the worst.  The half way point is also the spot on the trail that gets buffeted by the worst of the winds, and the windchill had frozen it solid.  The 40% grade of this particular section now consisted of rock-hard tundra that no shoe could possibly grip, and even microspikes could barely bite into, sloped such that you could barely stand up even without moving and still not end up on your ass. 


I dreaded this section every fucking descent; we all did.  One time we even tried bushwhacking off trail to bypass it, but we decided that this took too long and we were up against the clock.  Every repeat, this was a gauntlet that we had to brave, and there were many falls but -more than that- anxiety as our bodies grew increasingly taught and brittle with the compounding miles and vert.  We dreaded the fall that would take us out of the game, with so much already invested.  


At one point I noticed that my microspikes’ traction was getting even more pathetic.  They had been dulled by the unforgiving frozen ground, as they were meant for snow and not tundra.  Thankfully I had another pair in my car.  I hadn’t worn this second pair for ages.  These were my original pair of microspikes, had already dulled long ago, but had recently been brought back to life by an elderly gentleman that I’d met on the Grind named Ted, who had sharpened them to weaponized points in his garage such that I was afraid to wear them in case I accidentally kicked myself in the other leg with an errant stride.  Ted is turning 70 this year, and is an incredibly inspirational human.   These spikes gripped a bit better ?.


We started at 1pm on the 14th, with what ended up being five of us attempting to repeat the Grind for 24 hours.  Our friend Jason dropped off the pace immediately, obviously content to do his own thing for the duration.  It was great to pass him so many times on the trail and give each other encouragement.  Jason ended up crushing it and doing the Grind 19x in those crazy conditions!   Alan, Marina, Erik and I set a steady pace of between 45 and 50 minutes per grind, and laughed and chatted our way uneventfully through that windy afternoon until dusk settled in.


But with dark came a pizza delivery (actually two pizza deliveries, uncoordinated yet nearly simultaneous) and we lost Alan to a large quantity of pizza and a trail poop at the end of Lap 9.  Alan was never far behind, and we tried to encourage him to catch up, but he ended up settling into his own pace, later supported by his wife Tasha and our friend Erin, among others.  Alan is also now the proud holder of the prestigious ‘Glenn Ryder Jorts Fiver’ title, completing his first 5 Laps in a butt-hugging pair of closely cropped jean shorts that certainly accentuate his assets, in spite of the frigid temperatures.  Pure madness!  Alan went on to put together a truly epic performance, finishing 22 Grinds, a feat made nearly unbelievable due to his sheer lack of training.  How do you run for 24 hours straight when you generally average like 2 hours a week?  Answer: By being King of the Pain Cave!


Ted (did I mention age 69?!) and members of the Rise&Grind crew, daily denizens of the Grind whom I had initially met while training for the previous year’s attempt, showed up at 11pm to Grind through the night in solidarity.  We had heard that they might be there, but we were still quite surprised, figuring that everything would’ve been called off on their end due to the arctic winds and the danger of falling branches; it gave everyone involved a pretty reasonable ‘out’ that of course no one involved took.  Their crew was always a merry sight on the trail through that cold cold night, and they accomplished their goal of 7x, leaving a painted rock at the lookout to mark each completed Grind.


The night.  The absolute need to warm up in the car versus the extremely tight race against the clock not allowing us sufficient time to do so.  We were so fucking cold, and the wind never let up, contrary to the forecast.  We were all suffering, but Marina started going downhill around Lap 18.  She was grinding along without complaint as she always does, but the cold was obviously getting to her, and she looked like death. 


It’s so hard to balance the layering properly such that you don’t sweat on the uphill and then freeze in wet clothes on the descent or the moment you stopped moving.  Marina’s pace was slowing too, resulting in Erik and I having to wait a few times each Grind, which made us very cold indeed.  The three of us had talked about just such a situation; that as a group we had to stick to the record pace and not let one of us take down all three.  We now realized that we had fallen off pace and were digging ourselves a hole.  Marina kept telling us to leave her.  But after 18 hours of grinding together, we just couldn’t do it!  Eventually she forced us to, by informing us of her intention to take a lengthy break at the bottom in order to warm up.  Marina did just that, rallying and finishing strong, tallying 23 Abby Grinds!  There’s no quit in my friends, and I’m very proud of them!


Erik and I were back on pace, and dawn was breaking on a new day which always provides a morale and energy boost.  But we had dug quite the hole through the last few laps, and now were resigned to matching my previous record of 24x.  “We’ll still get to share the record.” I told Erik.  “We’re going to beat my time from last year at least, as I was right up against the 24 hour buzzer.”  We did our thing quietly for a while longer, until something very cool (and maybe slightly embarrassing in a way) happened.


On lap 21 to our surprise, this super fast road runner named Mark Klassen that I sometimes train with on the local track (although he passes me doing my 400m sprints while he’s doing mile repeat pace) showed up, all set to do a few laps with us in road shoes (!).  Although things were thawing out a bit in the morning sun, there is no way he should’ve been able to keep upright on that descent whatsoever!  Both Erik and I marvelled at this aloud, and he shrugged and said “I’ve always been light on my feet.”  


Man, I don’t get it.  A road runner.  Road shoes…  Anyways, Mark set a decent pace both up and down the Grind.  It wasn’t an out-of-reach-pace, but it was significantly faster than what we’d been doing.  We both respect Mark a great deal, we’re in awe of his speed, and neither of us wanted to death march lamely in front of him, so we were forced to keep up -to our dismay!  After the first lap, we sighed in relief as he went to his vehicle, but “Oh shit he’s coming back!”   


At this point my frienemy and previous record holder Matt had heard of the attempt and had also shown up, pacing us for the final laps with a couple others.  We were at 23x now, and we’d made up a lot of time due to what we’d later call ‘The Klassen Effect’. 


After doing some mental math while marching up this 23rd Grind, which was to be our second-to-last, I said to Erik, “If we keep this up, we’re going to have to do another Grind.”  I’m not sure how enthusiastically I said it, to be honest, because a part of me was definitely not enthusiastic about the prospect of once again trying for 25, after completely reconciling myself with having only one Grind left to go after this one.   I was totally okay with only doing 24, I just wanted so badly to be finished.  Every fiber of my being was screaming at me to stop.  However Erik showed no such hesitation, and only picked up the pace after my comment.  This man is as steadfast as they come!  I followed him up the hill again.


Well we did it!  When Erik and I popped out at the Abby Grind lookout on lap 25, we found Alan and Marina and their pacers enjoying their last view from the top.  After a satisfying moment shared together, we all shuffled down together and emerged at the trailhead to loud cheers and cowbell.  We sat down in the dirt and had a beer, and a few happy tears rolled down my cheeks. 


What a day to share with everyone.  What were already strong bonds were strengthened so much more on March 14th/15th.  And even though I would have loved to share the record with all involved, we knew going in that this would be an unlikely result.  You can’t run 90+ km with 11500m of climbing without shit going wrong for some of us, and the record required a nearly perfect performance from each of us.  Nonetheless, despite going through their respective hardships, I loved witnessing everyone persevere and never give up.  The event was a huge success!  We all were glowing at the end through our smears of dirt and grime.



The difficult thing about repeats on any course is that you’re always coming back to your vehicle.  24 times I could have quit and been home soaking in the bath tub with beer in hand within 10 minutes time.  That shit is hard to resist!  And another thing; fractions suck!  We started at such a small one (1/25th) and it took so very long just to get to a measly third!  The sheer weight of the undertaking in terms of your position within those fractions can absolutely crush one during a low period.  “I am already *this* tired, and I’m not even close to half way finished?!?” 


For me, the only way to keep going is to try to stay as present as possible.  The next stride doesn’t hurt that badly; it’s totally manageable.  It’s the thought of the thousands more to come that can only feel as bad or worse.  That weight.  That’s what really hurts.  But it’s not true even; sometimes the strides start to feel better, and then the low is behind you.  Believing this is a powerful tool.


How long will it take for the wooden wolf bottle opener to decompose entirely where it’s buried and become one with the mountain?  Hopefully by then I’ll be once again using joy as the main fuel source for silly feats like The Ides of March.  I feel that utilizing emotional pain as one’s primary fuel source isn’t particularly sustainable, even though it has burned fairly brightly for nearly a year now.  And there is joy too, absolutely!  Especially when these silly feats are done together with great friends.  I truly believe that all lows end, but some just take a while.  For now, I’ll do my best to stay present, keep believing, and hopefully keep sharing incredible experiences with my amazing friends and family.


Thank you everyone!  Thank you to my lovely family for bringing me soup, coffee and pizza and to all the local runners and friends who came out for a lap or two or dropped off some treats or simply rang a cowbell at the bottom; you all made it special!  I can’t believe that our taper tantrums led us to being momentarily cranky about your hypothetical collective involvement.  Taper tantrums are a real thing and not to be taken trivially!  All that Not running makes a person crazy, and that’s a fact.  And of course thank you to my foolish friends that sign up for my dumb ideas; I truly couldn’t do it without you!  ?



Oh yeah, we also got jump-scared by a Sasquatch or something at like midnight.  Classic.


Javelina Jundred was a party!  It had been hyped as the Burning Man of ultrarunning, and it definitely had that festival feel to it (although I’ve never been to Burning Man -maybe one day!)  I don’t think I’ve ever met so many awesome people in such a short time.  It certainly didn’t hurt that I traveled down there with my good friend Hannah Perry, who (spoiler alert) crushed her first 100 miler!   As many of you know, she’s super rad, which of course helped break the ice in conversations with the many amazing strangers that we met down there.  

The first one though, was at the YVR Park N Fly, before I’d even met Hannah at the airport.  I was pulling my suitcases out of the back of my RAV4, when from behind me, a lady’s voice says “Hey, this is going to sound weird, but are you flying to Phoenix for a hundred mile race?”  She’d seen my vehicle’s decals.  I turned around and it was Kim Magnus, one of Canada’s top trail runners.  She is also super rad, and later introduced Hannah and I to her friend Riccardo Tortini, whom I also knew of and had never met, because I may have spent a bit of time stalking the many Javelina competitors ranked higher than me on Ultrasignup ?.   Apparently another friend of theirs was also racing, but was on a different flight.  It was awesome to hear that we had a Canadian contingent heading down to the desert.  Off to a good start in YVR!

Taken on our first day in Phoenix, the above photo shows Hannah and I posing in front of the badass Jeep we rented.  I had of course booked the cheapest compact car possible, but i guess so did everyone else.  When we arrived at the rental depot at 12:30am Friday morning (Thursday night, for all intents and purposes), they tried to upsell me hard on a Jeep or Suburban.  To be honest, I was tempted, because who wouldn’t want to cruise the desert in a Jeep with the top off, but I stuck to my guns and resisted.  Holy shit we couldn’t believe it when it was waiting for us in our assigned spot down in the parkade.

Off to a good start in Phoenix!

PS:  Note the taco hat.  It played a major role in the trip, from being a centerpiece in the Eric Senseman photo that blew up the internet ?, or turning me into “TacoMan!” while being cheered for by hundreds of daydrinking strangers when completing loops at Javelina Jeadquarters.  I didn’t wear it for the whole race, but even without it I was still TacoMan.   (I did keep the taco shorts on for the entire race though – sorry Alan.)  The hat is Hannah’s but apparently I’ve earned it now, and also it’s kind of gross from racing in it for 70km, so I’m not surprised that she doesn’t want it back.


Hannah and I had arranged to camp in the massive tent city set up at Javelina Jeadquarters for race weekend, but our trip was from Thursday to Tuesday.  For one night before and two nights after, we stayed with strangers.  Well, Hannah had met Joel once before, when she ran the Rim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon ages ago, so I guess not total strangers.  Joel is an ultrarunner / triathlete and him and his lovely wife Ruth set us up in a beautiful 35 foot trailer parked beside their house.  These two were the most gracious hosts and incredible people!  They cooked us dinner, busted out their fancy sipping tequila, and left their side door unlocked at all hours, encouraging us to come on in whenever we wanted to shower, do laundry, whatever.  Did I mention we were staying with these strangers FOR FREE!   Amazing.  The other cool thing was that they connected us with the SanTan Runners (Joel’s running crew) who had a bunch of runners and crew at Javelina and accepted us into their group with open arms.  They had secured a 30 ft x 10 ft stretch of real estate along the finish line corridor and erected three gazebos, so it was great to have a base camp complete with many chäirs on course.

On the Friday morning Joel, Hannah and I grabbed a lovely breakfast at a cute little cafe, claimed our tents on the race grounds and hit the race expo.  Pro runner Eric Senseman was at the Rabbit booth wearing his ‘Born to Run’ shirt, signing autographs and kissing babies.  I quickly bought the last ‘Born to Run Faster than Senseman’ shirt, stripped off my own shirt and put it on, approaching Eric with a big shit eating grin.  We chatted a bit and then took the infamous photo shown above.   Hannah and I noticed an adjacent booth had a signup sheet for free permanent tattoos after the race, but it was already full and into a wait list -cool idea though!  Hannah, Joel and I also bought some special Javelina-inspired single beers at the expo, slammed them, then realized they were also selling six packs.  Being a tipsy idiot, I bought a six pack without checking the price, and ended up paying for the price of six more singles.  At least it was damn good beer, but Hannah was paying attention and cut me off after I’d consumed four.  I guess I should thank her for saving my race, but I’m still a bit pissed off, lol.

Friday night at Javelina Jeadquarters was pretty low key.  We ate pizza and went for a little 3km shakeout before saying goodnight and hitting the tents.  Thankfully everyone for the most part respected the need for a good night’s sleep pre-race and kept quiet in the tent city.

I woke up just before 4am, feeling a bit chilly, ate breakfast while still in my sleeping bag, and then wandered out for a coffee and a poop.  Unfortunately the coffee line up was way too long, but the coffee is really just to instigate the poop right?  I was in the lineup when I realized I was already brewing, so I left the coffee line and joined the port-a-potty line instead.  As we counted down the final minutes towards the 6am race start, the start line was electric, and I was standing beside some of my favourite ultrarunners, wondering if I was still dreaming.  There was Billy Yang and Ethan Newberry filming us, getting footage for who knows what phenomenal YouTube documentary they may or may not be dropping on fanboys everywhere in the future.  There were some amazing costumes, my favourite being a Fred Flintstone doppelgänger who was not only dressed as Fred, but carried a full sized Flintstone mobile, holding up the frame and peddling with his feet just as Fred does.  Yabbadabbadoo!  It was still a little chilly, but all one needed to do was move a little closer to the fire-dancer (yes, fire-dancer!) for warmth.  So fucking rad.   I guess it’s time to run 100 miles!


Cruising on Loop 2 of the Javelina Jundred, approximately a marathon in.  You can’t tell in this photo, but the wheels were already in danger of falling off.  

Loop 1 had been incredible.  After being asked by Sally McRae ? at the start line whether I was going to wear my taco hat for the whole race, my star-struck ass went out fast in the top 20 off the start.  The course record holder Patrick Reagan was off like lightning, and I forced down the foolish impulse to chase him.  I don’t know if there’s anyone in the world that can beat Patrick on this course, with its sand and heat.  Running felt so easy after my lengthy taper, and I soon found myself running in third immediately behind Tyler Green, the winner of this year’s Cascade Crest 100 miler and Bandera 100k among many other races.  We chatted for a bit, and it turns out that he had been the pacer for third place James Holk at Mountain Lakes last year -small world!  I knew that this cat was out of my league, but I foolishly passed him and finished the loop about a minute ahead.  I yelled “That’s what I’m Taco-ing about!” as I tagged up at the start/finish line, and the Race Director Jubilee -while dancing on the roof of a spookily-decorated truck- repeated my corny line on the megaphone, which totally made my day. 

Javelina Headquarters was nuts.  You enter it off the main course through a huge HOKA arch, and get funneled along this corridor lined with crew popup tents to tag up and end your loop, maybe 500m each way.  Javelina Jeadquarters is the only crew accessible aid station, so everyone just hangs out there all day and parties along that corridor.  There are over a thousand runners on course, there must be twice as many crew, and they are all there cheering for you!  My amazing Aunt Pat and cousin Keara were there too.  They were mountain biking “in the area” and graciously offered to crew me.  It was their first ultra race experience and they were amazing!  Tyler left for his second loop while they were fussing over me lovingly at the aid station, and I never caught him again.  

The heat was coming, I had swapped my taco hat for something a little more practical, and I was already madly popping salt pills to combat the leg cramping that again plagued me early in my race, starting right at the start of loop 2.  A dude passed me while I was doubled over, trying to massage a particularly painful cramp out of my left quad.  Correction: before he passed, he stopped beside me.  “Are you okay man?”  Goddamn I love this sport.  I waved him off and he took third.  Thankfully the cramping ended up being shorter lived than what had hit me during my 24 Hour Abby Grind or Mountain Lakes before that.  I still don’t understand why I always cramp so early?  It wasn’t even that hot yet, as it was only about 10am, but the sun was steadily rising along with the temperature, and there was exactly zero shade on course.  I got it back together and finished that loop, even retaking third, but Tyler Green was long gone.  Throughout the race I’d watch him continue to pull away from me as we’d cross paths on the washing-machine style loops.  This dude was a machine, and it didn’t look to me like he slowed down at all the entire race.  I’ve definitely got a lot to learn when it comes to pacing 100 milers properly.



Loops 3 and 4 were fucking hot.  The temperature climbed to 30 degrees Celsius and stayed that way for hours.  The sun was relentless and there was no relief from it, no shade.  I was told that the lack of humidity would help make it bearable, but after soaking myself with ice water at an aid station I’d be bone dry again within minutes.  I couldn’t even tell that I was sweating because it evaporated immediately, the only signs being the fact that I was drinking litre after litre of fluids and rarely peeing, or the contours of salt crystals that patterned my face and clothes.  The dryness felt like it was sucking the energy out of me like a Dementor in the Harry Potter series, turning me into a withered raisin.  Yup, really fucking hot.  

At first it didn’t seem so bad.  I had prepared for this heat with two weeks of daily sauna sessions during my taper.  I had chosen my apparel carefully to provide maximum coverage where it counts with breathable white materials.  I intentionally took much longer than normal at aid stations, squeezing sponges of ice water over my head and packing ice into the ice bandana that I wore around my neck, into my arm sleeves, into my waistband, and into my hat.  I was taking care of myself.  It didn’t matter though, I was still getting cooked out there.

At times I started to panic -like something akin to claustrophobia- feeling suffocated by the heat combined with the pace I was attempting to maintain.  I tried visualization techniques and mantras, trying to convince myself that I was okay, that my brain wasn’t overheating, that this was nothing compared to the sauna’s intensity and I was fine; desperate attempts to get my erratic heart rate to settle down during these waves of overheated anxiety.  Maybe they worked?  What probably worked even better was all the runners coming the opposite way on their second loops, saying encouraging things like “Looking strong!” “You’re killing it!”  “So impressive!”  The act of smiling and interacting with them helped a bit to ease the dread cycling through my mind -that I was likely in the process of exploding in the heat and should back way off- and hey, they were telling me I was looking strong.  I kept moving forward at a decent clip at least, although I frustratingly started noticing my average pace dropping steadily in the heat despite an increase in perceived effort as I approached the 100km mark of my day.  At the end of loop 3 it was 2:41pm, and having run an 8:41 100k -a huge PR- I was still in third, but I was dying.  I was so done with running in a fucking oven.

Loop 4 was hell.  And it took forever.  The scariest thing about ultrarunning for me is how time is so relative.  And no, I’m not delving into Einstein’s equations here -although as an engineer I sure do love to get nerdy- I’m talking of our perception of time.  When shit goes real bad in terms of a deep deep low, the minutes turn into hours and the steady ticking away of kilometres on the watch display slows to a rate that I still don’t understand.  You realize this molasses-like effect on time and distance and tell yourself not to look at your watch anymore, but then glance down much much later, convinced you’ve run at least 8km since then, and you’ve run 800 meters.  That shit is scary.  Can you get to a place of so much suffering that this horrible moment stretches to infinity, and you’ll never be out of it?  At times on loop 4, that felt very possible to me.

The first real sign that I was headed for a major low was the deterioration of my interactions with the other runners coming the other direction.  These runners were still super smiley and encouraging, and I was still responding, but my responses were a mumbled “thanks, you too” on repeat, instead of the fun responses I had previously been custom-tailoring based on their costumes or whatever.  With over a thousand other runners on course, and the majority of them still on their loop 3, there were hundreds flowing by me.  Eventually even my simple repeated mumbled response became too much energy expenditure, at least as far as I was concerned in the ultra-cranky state I found myself, and while I didn’t stop doing it, I began getting angry every time I’d turn a corner and see another mob of runners coming my way.  Why couldn’t they just let me stay in my drowning overheated mind, leave me to my thoughts of “why the fuck am I doing this?” “I’m failing.”  “I went out too fast and didn’t respect the heat and now I’m fucked.”  I should’ve thanked them for breaking up my vicious thought cycles with their smiles, for marking the passage of time and at least giving me the certainty that it hadn’t yet approached the event horizon of a black hole of pain with time stopped completely.  I do remember recognizing the ridiculousness of that anger at some point, and sometimes when that happens it’s kind of like realizing that you’re dreaming, which often causes you to wake up.

This time my low held on for a while longer however, but I think recognizing it helped relax its grip.  The climb up to Jackass Junction was so hard.  The sections of loose sand felt like quicksand, sucking away what little juice I had left in my legs.  The sections of loose baseball-sized rocks battered my feet until I thought that my big toe was broken.  I wasn’t lifting my feet  enough anymore and I seemed to kick every rock on that trail, and had a few superman falls forward.  I wanted to quit so bad.  When I did enter the three aid stations on this loop, I said as little to the volunteers as possible, worried that the words “I drop” would come out of my mouth.  I was gritting my teeth and steeling my mind, my entire being flexed and rigid against the intensely powerful urge to quit.  More than once I thought my vision was beginning to cloud, and that my Mountain-Lakes-Rhabdo blindness was coming back, but I’d blink and my vision would be crystal clear.  I think my brain was trying to trick me, since I had promised my wife that I would immediately drop at the first sign of vision loss, and I wanted to drop so badly.  My vision was fine, so I guess I have to keep going.  

My low let go more completely when I noticed how low in the sky the sun was getting around 5pm.  It was still hot but the end of the inferno was in sight, and my spirits correspondingly improved.  Finishing seemed possible again.



The sun had finally set behind the mountains, at which I bellowed shouts of joy and slapped high fives with a bunch of nearby runners coming the other direction in the washing-machine loops.  “That evil bastard is gone!”  Shortly afterwards, I crossed the finish line timing mat for the second-to-last time and was handed a ‘finishing loop’ glow stick bracelet by Jamil ‘Jam Jam’ Coury.  I had just been told that I had dropped to fourth place now.  I wasn’t particularly surprised, as I had pulled over at the last aid station for a lengthy poop and was apparently passed by Kaci ‘Pixie Ninja’ Lickteig (my favourite female ultrarunner) during that time.  Unfortunately over the years I have not trained my body functions to make haste with waste (hehe), as I’ll usually be reading a book or messing around on my phone while I do my business, often using the signal of pins and needles when my legs fall asleep due to lack of circulation as the cue to wipe and get on with things.  Something to work on before the next race I suppose, lol.   Anyways, my new bracelet wasn’t the only thing glowing as I crossed that start/finish line timing mat.  There was a mob of glowing costumed runners waiting to start the 31km Jackass Night Run.  I always hit the Jeadquarters aid station after tagging up at the timing mat -not before- and they were loudly counting down the seconds to their start, so I was doomed to get stuck behind them on Loop 5.  Oh well.  

I soon realized that this wasn’t all bad.  Their energy level was amazing and they were moving pretty quick out of the gate, no doubt excited to climb up to the half way point of their night run, the infamous Jackass Junction.  Also, the costumes were great, and some a little more risqué than the 100 milers and 100k costumes, meaning there were a lot of nice bums on display as I slowly made my way through the pack, which wasn’t horrible.  The night run is unique in that they run 31km starting just after dark, and I believe that they have the same cutoff as the rest of us at noon the next day.  What this means is that they can run the 16km to Jackass Junction, party there for like 10 hours if they wanted, and still have time to stumble their way downhill to the finish line before the cutoff.  Jackass Junction (shown in the photo below) had a fully stocked open bar and a dance floor, and I’m thinking that this Jackass Night Run might be the perfect race for my next Javelina! (Cuz running 100 miles is BULLSHIT, lol)

As I was passing the sparkly happy costumed people on their way to free booze and dancing, I saw Kaci beside me.  I said “Hi Kaci!  I’m a big fan and you’re crushing it!” but I’m not sure if she heard me or responded or realized that she was being passed.  With my taco hat back in its rightful spot and my amazing bum, I could easily have been another one of the night run rowdies, haha.  I didn’t stick around to find out, as I was in the middle of reclaiming third place.  The fanboy in me pouted.  He was soon appeased however, as it’s nearly time for another blatant name-drop.

The 16km from Jeadquarters to Jackass Junction is a steady climb.  On loop 1 I remember thinking “you call this a hill?”  But by loop 5 it was a fucking mountain.  In addition to that, Jackass seemed to get further away with every loop -there was some serious Bermuda Triangle shit going on.  I had overextended myself while decisively passing Kaci, and now I was walking.   A dude passed me, with the slow, smooth and efficient stride of one experienced with slogging through miles.  He had a similar glow stick bracelet.  Did I just get passed?  I gave it my all to catch him, and not-so-subtly was trying to get a look at his bib colour when he complemented my taco hat.  It was Ethan fucking Newberry -the Ginger Runner- and he was doing the 31km Night Run!  Better yet, when I told him I was from Vancouver and that the heat had cooked my Canadian Bacon, he asked “Hey are you Ryan?”  Apparently his buddy -my buddy- Levi who apparently knows him through the YouTuber world had told him to look out for me, that I was a nutter who likes to “go for it”, which I guess was a fair assessment.  Chatting with the Ginger Runner was a dream come true, and for a while it kept me moving along at his steady pace.  But I hurt so much, and staying in the forefront of my mind as is required for one to aggressively fanboy and be social and say things that made sense was getting to be too much for me to handle, so I politely told Ethan that it was awesome chatting with him, but I needed to retreat back inside to my pain cave.  He totally understood, so I subsequently dropped him.  I was almost at Jackass Junction, and then it would be 15km of downhill to Jeadquarters and the finish line.  

When I got to Jackass Junction at the midpoint of my final loop, there was way too much going on.  It was like sensory overload.  So many people!  Apparently I hadn’t passed as many of the Jackass Night Run runners as I’d thought, or maybe a lot of 100 milers and 100k’ers had been sucked into the party?  It would be much more dangerous for them, very difficult to escape.  I passed by an aid station table lined with hard liquor bottles and pre-prepared tequila shots and headed straight for the ginger ale.  It was the only thing I consumed on loop 5, drinking some at every aid station.  I still carried my handhelds full of Perpetuem, but I had no desire to drink that nasty shit now or ever again.

Thankfully I had been taking in a massive amount of calories through Perpetuem all day due to the heat.  I had been drinking over a litre an hour of it for most of the race -plus aid station ginger ale- and probably averaging an intake of 600 calories an hour through these fluids.  I didn’t consume anything else the entire race other than Perpetuem, ginger ale and salt pills; not a single gel or Clif bar.  I’ve found that if I take care of myself for the first 80 miles of a hundred, it doesn’t matter much what I do nutrition-wise in the last 20 miles.  Although I must add that these are not recommended nutrition tactics, as most stomachs seem to revolt at just over half of that calorie intake according to what I’ve read, and running on virtually empty for 3+ hours is probably not great either, but I’m usually just not in the mood for calories by then.  

I often wonder if my double foot long Subway lunches and my late night beer-fueled hill repeats are actually responsible for this ability to take in so many calories while pushing hard, or whether I’m just extremely good at justifying my bad habits and vices in the context of ultrarunning, lol.

But yes, sweet anti-Perpetuem ginger ale.  I downed a few gulps worth from my little collapsible cup while slumped over the aid-station table, steadying myself on it with my elbows.  The friendly volunteer asked me if I needed anything else and I mumbled “no thanks” without looking up.  I’m not much fun at kilometer 145, which is part of the reason why I don’t use a pacer.  I go deep inside.  I probably looked pretty far gone.  I felt far gone.  And the ginger ale couldn’t truly wash away the taste in my mouth; only a finish line beer could do that.  As I stumbled out of Jackass Junction, with the temporary clunky limp-shuffle that always follows a late-race stop -when rigor mortis sets in almost immediately- I decided to focus my mind on this most important beverage and that finish line.  It was waiting for me 15km down hill and I finally knew that I was going to get this fucker done.  And not just finish, but hit my goal of top 10 on a big stage and possibly even hold on to my podium spot!  I wasn’t going to get the sub15 I wanted, but I could almost taste that beer, and relished the thought of that final Jeadquarters run through the gauntlet of cheering crew and that last glorious pass through the finish line.  And chäir, so much chäir.



I didn’t trust my watch, but I knew I was getting close.  And then I saw the silly goodR signs planted in the ground, which meant I was super close.  Maybe 1km?  And then I heard the music.  And then the cheering.  And then saw the lights.  And I was charging through that electric corridor, cowbells ringing everywhere, dodging random crew as well as runners going both directions on their quest for a hundred miles.  My journey was finished, and I turned on the jets and crossed through the finish line arch the final time at a full sprint, shouted “I love Javelina and I love tacos!” at the top of my lungs, and accepted that big ass pirate-artifact-looking Javelina buckle from Jam-Jam himself.  3rd place!  Podium.  I fucking did it!

So having now watched the video that my Aunt took of my finish line ‘sprint’, it’s hilarious.  I look like I’m working pretty hard, sure -swinging my arms and stuff-but I’m barely picking my feet up, certainly not the pace I thought I’d been going.  I thought I’d been absolutely flying.  It sure felt that way, and my spirit certainly was flying at that moment.  It just goes to show how destroyed and unresponsive my body really was by that point.  It was less a sprint and more a determined shuffle, but it carried me across that finish line and I was done.  Get me a beer.

How to describe the transformative power of what I just went through?  What does it mean to keep going when every fibre of your being is howling at you to stop?  Every step is a battle won against that overwhelming urge to give up, against the failures and missed opportunities of the past.  A battle against those inner voices of negativity and doubt that are increasingly amplified during the late stages of an ultra but are always there in everyday life too, churning deep in the background.  In the fray, one learns tools for fighting back against them with an expanded perspective and thoughts of gratitude.  Pain is shooting like so many sparks as your willpower is hammered and sharpened on the anvil of voluntary suffering into a powerful weapon.  Every step changing you.

How to describe the symbolic power of that cherished hundred mile belt buckle later when facing life’s challenges?  I wear my Mountain Lakes buckle often and touch it with my fingertips when I inevitably doubt myself and flash back to the timid man that I once was, and my new Javelina buckle is also infused with similar meaning.  It reminds me of what I really am and what my still unrealized potential may yet be.  It gives me a glint of steel in my eyes.

I am not some rigidly strong David Goggins-like “stay hard motherfucker” type however.  I say stay soft and malleable, not rigid and brittle.  Allow yourself to feel deeply; your pain, other’s pain, and all the joy and beauty too, but know deep down that you have an infinite well in which to hold it.  There is so much beauty in pain, as long as you don’t let it overwhelm you and pull you down and diminish you; as long as you don’t wallow in it, get swallowed by it.  I am deeply human, I shed tears often -equally from joy and pain- and I still have demons.  And that’s okay, it’s not about being invincible and feeling no pain, it’s about opening yourself to pain and love, about taking down walls, about being uncomfortable at times, exposed and vulnerable.  I have so much more growing and learning yet to do, and while that comes from all aspects of life, there is nothing quite like boldly running a hundred miles on the absolute edge of one’s ability, flirting with a high likelihood of spectacular failure, battling your negative inner dialogue, making peace with pain through a deep understanding of its value, and somehow making it through to the other side to write a lengthy convoluted story about it all.

P.S. I got my first ever tattoo right near the finish line the next day; it’s a Javelina on my right calf.  Turns out half the people on the list never showed! 🙂





This isn’t my Javelina Jundred race report.  I hope to write one of those too, as this whole event was such a different experience from other races that it definitely warrants description.  But no, this is another one of those vague and squishy literary rambles where I try (and fail) to encapsulate with words what ultrarunning means to me.  If you didn’t like my post-Mountain Lakes writeup a bit over a year ago, best to stop reading now eh.

I’ve been going through some shit.  Hell, we all are going through some shit.  I recently lost my best friend abruptly in a way that left me extremely confused and wounded.  I often worry that I’d been irreparably broken by how it all went down, as the joy in life that I’d found so easily before seemed a distant memory.  With perspective though, I’m probably way too melodramatic, and my shit likely pales in comparison to other people’s shit; but it was my shit, and it overwhelmed me at times, pounding on the walls of my mind with lamenting wails while I stumbled through the day-to-day.  I went down to the desert to race hard, yes, but my real motivation wasn’t any particular race result; only to suffer, and through that suffering, to remember what I am and how strong I am.  I went down there to cauterize those wounds with the flame of suffering and reclaim my mind and my joy.

I sometimes think of pain -whether emotional or physical- as a stone thrown in a bucket, agitating it and tormenting the waters held within.  But I’ve found through ultrarunning that we aren’t the bucket, we’re a fucking ocean!  Nothing can touch us, really; the ocean barely feels the stone, it just accepts it with little more than a ripple across its great expanse.  As the miles accumulated under the heat of the desert sun, the water in my bucket started to bubble and then boil, and the flimsy walls holding it melted, and I flowed back into my ocean.  

It’s interesting how it seems that opening the extremes for pain also opens the extremes for love.  The emotions following a race like this are so intense.  I found myself getting tears in my eyes on our flight home while my friend Hannah snoozed in the seat beside me, thinking of the kindness of strangers -from our Phoenix hosts who opened their home to us, or the couple that saw my trophy on the plane and surprised me by buying me a beer which initiated a super pleasant conversation- so many little interactions that seemed to redeem humanity for me.  I want to hug every stranger and somehow transfer to them this joy that I feel!  

I know from my experience post-Mountain Lakes and other events that this feeling will fade, and my heart will become small and contained again, but the feeling still lingers now, and I LOVE EVERYONE!  And maybe my next bucket will be a size or two larger when it reforms, congealing again with the cooling effect of the mundane day-to-day; maybe even much larger, with increasingly weaker and more translucent walls.

It may not make much sense, but this is why I run 100 miles.  This is my ‘Why’.  ?

Written a few days after pacing Marina Striker for 100km through the night on her incredible Fatdog120 (200km) journey:

Sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated.

You work really hard, over a long period of time, towards lofty goals.  You love what you’re doing, because you know it’s making you a stronger, better person.  You’re seeing progress towards those goals, and you’re filled with passion, joy and optimism; great things await!

But then something happens.  Life kicks you in the balls, and it’s your own damn fault; you should’ve seen it coming.  And everything changes.  The passion and joy are gone.  Those goals seem ridiculous and a waste of time.  But you’ve put so much time into their pursuit, and to stop is to lose everything; all that hard work over years.  So you keep pushing forward, but it sucks.  It’s just like throwing good money after bad.

But then something else happens.  You get to be a part of something special, and see another ‘normal person’ do something completely incredible and nearly unbelievable, with the main tools in her toolkit being simply that same passion and drive that you once had, not so long ago.  You see the look on her face as she crosses the finish line after years of training which led to 36 hours of running through remote mountains, and you suddenly find what you’d lost.  It all comes flooding back with those finish line tears.

Thank you Marina.  Thank you so much.

I wrote this half a lifetime ago as a reminder to myself to stay present, but I feel like I need this reminder now more than ever.  There is so much occupying my mental bandwidth these days that it’s easy to get wrapped up in my own head and forget to experience life’s beauty.  I need to breathe through the pain, which is part of that beauty, and not get fixated on it to the point where it clouds my reality.  One step forward at a time, while grounded and mindful of each step, and soon you’ve run a hundred miles and into a new world.

A divine dance of green leaf-light

Awakened by the evening’s glow

Forever lost to narrowed sight

This contrived night

A thought’s shadow


My footfalls fall upon deaf ears

My mind consumed by fallen tears

Claim nature’s pace as my birthright

And dissolve these implanted fears


Though lesson’s learned I can’t explore

Results of this philosophy 

For habits burned into my core

Prevent no more

Than words from me


But words are seeds that carry hope

And soon forgotten roots will grope 

Through cracks in future present’s door

To witness life and I elope


For on that special wedding day

Without my stubborn past’s consent

Each sounding step will lead the way

To feel the play

Of each moment











I went down to Olallie Lakes, Oregon to prove something to myself.  I spent a good portion of my life ‘weak’ -and I’m not just talking physically.  I would overthink things, all that could go wrong etc, hedge my bets so to speak, and basically defeat myself before I started.  This included putting myself out there socially, athletically, you name it.  You can’t fail if you don’t try, right?

Trailrunning, which led to ultrarunning, has opened me to something more.  I believe in this huge potential now.  Not just in me but in everyone.  Call it Stoke, call it passion, whatever, but as I watched my energy levels spiral upwards from couch-potato to what I am today -albeit extremely slowly and incrementally over the past few years- I wondered ‘What if?’  What if I went into my first 100 mile race without that same (probably recommended) conservative hedge-my-bets approach that had been the story of my life until recently?  I realized that this meant a very real chance of failure in the sense of ‘blowing up’ and not finishing, but I wanted to give myself the chance to do something special…

Well I did blow up, causing myself some pretty scary medical conditions including going blind in my left eye for the last four hours of the race and partially into the next day, but somehow I hung on and won the race by two minutes.

I’m not sure I ever want to do this again -time will tell I suppose- but I am so incredibly happy that I followed my audacious dreams.

I write this because I know that I’m nothing special, and any of us can do what I just did if we simply want it bad enough and stop listening to those fucking doubts!  And I’m not talking about just running here either; I’m talking about Everything.